Reviewed by Grace Soledad

Tess has always been overshadowed by her older sister. Her sister is the volleyball super star, the girl who can dance, the girl that every boy wants to go out with. The worst part of this is that although her sister is perfect, her sister also has to be nice too! She’s always trying to get Tess to join her in her reign at parties, and to set her up with a cute guy. Her family loves Kristina more than Tess, and she always ends up on the sidelines watching it happen.

Tess resigns herself to the fact that she’ll never be anywhere as good as Kristina, until something unexpected happens: her sister has leukemia. Her family’s vitality had always revolved around Kristina. First comes the denial, and then the panic, and the secrecy. Kristina doesn’t want anybody to know, but Tess is quietly screaming. What will they do as her cancer progresses?

When I first saw I’m Not Her, I thought it looked strangely similar to Between Here and Forever (see our review). They’re both good, but I’m Not Her was definitely different.

Tess was very relatable. She was a strong girl, but her quiet strength wasn’t realized by many. She was the one always watching at parties, just waiting until her sister would let her go home. Kristina would try so hard to get Tess to socialize, but she wouldn’t. I did not realize just how much Tess relied on her sister until the cancer diagnosis.

One thing that I didn’t like was that the entire family’s world revolved around Kristina. I thought that perhaps Tess would grow more independent and her family would pay attention to her needs too, but it was always about Kristina. It was kind of irritating at first, but I eventually saw how Kristina affected everyone and understood why the author chose to portray her as she did.

There were several parts of the story that felt a little exaggerated to me; some of the reactions felt cheesy and overdone. For example, after the scene where we actually find out that Kristina has cancer, I just had to put down the book and think. The family members’ reactions got tended and poignant towards the end, but felt very unauthentic at first.

The plot of I’m Not Her was somewhat slow, but in a good way. I realized each character’s strengths and weaknesses, and connected to them well. Janet Gurtler took a sad topic and turned it into a wholesome YA book.

Rating: 3/5

Grace Soledad is a teenage bibliophile who runs the blog Words Like Silver. She is described as “antisocial” because she constantly has her nose buried in a book or a notebook. When not reading, she can be found dancing, writing, or at the beach. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Fire. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.